Josephine Hayes (locally known as Jo) has lived in Westgate for forty-two years, although she was born in Leicestershire, one of six children, in 1947. She studied at the Northern Counties College of Education, Newcastle Upon Tyne where she gained a Bachelor of Education Degree in Food and Nutrition and then taught cookery for ten years. She left teaching in 1982 to become a youth and community worker based in Weardale, working for Durham County Council. After 15 years she was promoted to the role of Community Education Officer. After retiring from youth work Jo continued in a voluntary capacity for many more years helping to run the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in Weardale and the Weardale Outdoor Project based at Stanhope Community Centre.

Her book, Over Hill and Dale, reflects her memories of a career in youth and community work spanning more than thirty-five years. It is the result of years of writing, thinking and wondering and describes many of the experiences and challenges she has met in her life as well as the many friendships made.